As Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams packs to leave office in January following his defeat at the polls this year, lawsuits keep coming from employees accusing him of workplace wrongdoing.
The latest complaint, filed against the city this week by Deputy Chief Jennifer Algarin-Barnes in federal court in Philadelphia, alleges that Williams harassed and retaliated against her because she refused to campaign for him in the May Democratic primary, which he lost in a landslide.
Algarin-Barnes, who has been employed in the Sheriff’s Office since 1995, also alleges that Williams publicly humiliated, isolated, and excluded her from work assignments because she refused to help him gossip and badmouth two couples of whom he was jealous because they were involved in office romances.
The complaint says that Williams had an eye toward sabotaging Algarin-Barnes’ marriage, and that he said he got pleasure promoting her so she would earn more money than her husband. It says that he wanted to change her working hours to overnight to see what it would do to her marriage, and that her husband wouldn’t want her after she turned 50. “No one wants a broke-down woman,” the lawsuit quotes Williams as saying.
Because of his “retaliatory” conduct, the lawsuit says, Algarin-Barnes "has suffered and continues to suffer irreparable mental and physical injury as well as monetary damages.”
Steven Auerbach, Algarin-Barnes’ attorney, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Williams, in a statement, denied any wrongdoing. “All of these allegations are false, and I am awaiting my day in court so the truth can come out,” he said. “These days, anyone can make any accusation against anybody, and because they see other settlements, they think they can get a quick payday by bringing a lawsuit. Let’s go to court so the truth can be heard.”
The city has spent nearly $600,000 this year to settle suits in which Williams is accused of wrongdoing.
Williams, a former state legislator, became sheriff in 2012 and was reelected in 2015. Indications of problems in his office began to surface in November 2017, when The Inquirer reported that female employees had sued him, alleging sexual harassment.
The article noted that a third woman, an assistant to Williams when he was a legislator, had previously settled a sexual harassment suit. Williams ignored calls from Mayor Jim Kenney to resign.
Williams has been named in six lawsuits and one Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint since 2017.
In June, Chief Inspector Richard Verrecchio, a 27-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, filed a lawsuit alleging that Williams, who is African American, discriminated against him because he is white and encouraged him to commit suicide. That suit is pending.
In April, Deputy Sheriff Dolores Ramos received $460,000 from the city after she alleged that she had been subjected to “severe sexual harassment by her supervisors and retaliated against” for complaining.
In May, Monte Guess, a deputy sheriff assigned to the Defendant Asset Recovery Team, filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit alleging that Williams spread false accusations that he had sexually harassed an employee, was an FBI informant, was gay, and was a pimp. That case is also unresolved.
In January, Marlaina Williams, a former employee of the Sheriff’s Office, settled a lawsuit for $127,500 claiming that repeated sexual harassment by the sheriff — to whom she is not related — rendered her emotionally broken and caused her to quit her job.
In addition, Deputy Sheriff Marquet Parsons has filed an EEOC harassment and retaliation complaint against the sheriff, according to Auerbach, the Narberth lawyer who also represents Guess, Marlaina Williams, Algarin-Barnes, and Verrecchio.